The Saint’s Devilish Deal – Excerpt!

Hi, readers! I’m celebrating my latest release, The Saint’s Devilish Deal, this month with a cool prize pack and giveaways! I thought I would share an excerpt on the Ladies in Red today, to give y’all a taste of Santiago & Esme.

 

Blurb:

Esmerelda Quinn has been looking for a place to belong since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was young. The closest thing to home has always been Aunt Constance’s villa in Puerto Vallarta, so after a string of dead-end hotellier jobs, she’s coming home to run the villa.

Santiago Cruz has called the villa home for as long as he can remember. In between surfing events, Constance has always had a room for him. Color him surprised when Constance decides to retire – and leaves a joint interest in the villa to both Santiago and Esme.

Esme isn’t thrilled to share ownership of the villa with the the youngest Cruz brother – especially when she learns Santiago’s brother has been after the villa for years. But Santiago has grown up while she’s been away at school and soon she finds herself falling for the rich boy down the hall.

Excerpt: 

“Dios, you were never this uptight before you left Mexico for your fancy boarding schools and university,” Santiago said. “We’ll read our letters as Constance requested, after three months.” Then he firmly grasped Esme’s elbow, pulled her to her feet, and frog-marched her out of the stuffy office before she could protest.

The air on the street was blessedly cool, a brisk breeze blowing in from the ocean, but that did nothing to cool Esme’s temper.

“How dare you? You do not speak for me, Santiago. You didn’t when we were kids, you didn’t in Napa, and you won’t now.” She jerked her arm from his grasp and turned back to the door but he stopped her.

“You still do not listen, pequeña. Constance has asked you to give her three months to recuperate, do you not see that? Three months and then you’ll understand what she wants. Maybe we both will.” The last words were barely a whisper, but before Esme could wonder what he meant, Santiago stepped forward, crowding her against the adobe wall. Making her five-footseven frame feel absolutely dainty next to his six-foot-three of toned, taut muscle. “You have not been here as I have.”

The words lashed at her heart but Esme refused to let Santiago see that he had the power to hurt her. 

“No, I haven’t been here, watching her condition deteriorate without doing anything as you have,” she said acidly. “How would you react if your father pulled a vanishing act, leaving me to run Cruz Resorts while you sat on your thumbs in the corner?”
“Leave the worrying to Tobias.” He shrugged. “My brother was always more interested in Eduardo’s dealings than I.”

“Truth, Saint, not more posturing.”

“If I were still involved with Cruz Resorts, I would welcome the additional time to enjoy
the finer things in life.”

She scoffed. “Like you did in Napa?”

“I did enjoy you, pequeña.”

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Do You Have a Waiting Room?

Over the past week I’ve been madly working on my final galley edits for my next Crimson Romance book, a book that I absolutely love. The Saint’s Devilish Deal will come out October 1, but you know what happened as I was going through the galley edits? Something that (usually) happens with all my books, but had not (until now) happened with my Saint: other characters began demanding their own attention.

Sometimes I look up and I’m not alone. Nope, we don’t have vampires or ghosts (at least, they aren’t in the classifieds or simple to find!) here on the North Coast. I have this thing I call The Waiting Room. Characters, some anonymous, some I know already…some with only really amazing eyes or a killer chest (yes, my Waiting Room can sometimes look like the Makeup trailer for a war movie), introduce themselves to me and poof! off on a story tangent.

The rule for The Waiting Room is that people can go in, but they can’t come out until they’re fully formed – they should have at least 1 name (first or last, doesn’t matter), they need to have a full face (not just eyes or lips or – once- just a nose) and they need to be ready to tell a little of their story.

Always when I’m in the middle of one story, I try to forget about The Waiting Room, but the patients waiting inside never forget about me. They pop up in dreams, interrupt me when I’m working on another character’s story and sometimes distract me while I’m cooking dinner. My general rule, and this is written down in the Handbook I leave on the coffee table in The Waiting Room, is that once I’m finished with a manuscript, the most fully developed character in the room can come forward.

Until this week, I’d been able to shut down the noise in my Waiting Room every time my Saint took center stage. This week…much harder to drown out the noise.

And, I’m sorry, Saint, but I’m going to have to let another strong, muscled chest take your place in my brain…just for a little bit. But don’t worry, you can still visit me in my dreams…just to keep me updated on your post-book life.

Books and Books and Books!

  I’m a bookaholic, like probably many of my Ladies in Red sisters. I order them for my Kindle, I order physical copies, I order, I order, I order — and even with immediate downloading of e-titles, I wait anxiously for them to arrive. The picture over there is about 1/10th of my available book space…and it’s all comprised of books stacked in different directions so more can fit. A couple of weeks ago I added to my physical book stash – 4 new craft of writing books, a couple of novels and some new non-fiction. Well. They’re here!

RadioMan got the mail yesterday morning and presented them to me as if the box held the Crown Jewels. Me? I of course destroyed the box trying to get them out – I’m not a very patient person – and then I sighed. The new writer’s market, an article markets book, flip dictionary (this book is a post unto itself…i’ll share later) and my very own, third copy of Donald Maas’ Breakout Novel – I’ve read until the other copies I purchased died a slow death, marked up and dog-eared. This copy will also become dog-eared, I’m sure, but every time I read it I find something new. Heaven!

I don’t know about you all, but one of my favorite smells is a brand new book – and I had almost 10 books smelling up that box just waiting for a little lovin’. Thousands of crisp, unturned pages just waiting for me to dogear them. Do you get this way? Does a new book – whether craft, fiction or research – get you going? Am I the only one?

So, here I am late on a Wednesday night staring at the new books on my desk, and wondering just how long it will be before their spines are broken, their pages are smudged with Coke and chocolate, their covers are torn. And they know they are loved…

Butterfly, Fly

We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are. We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them. It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it. Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Butterflies have always fascinated me; they are the one bug that I actually don’t mind touching or landing on me.

What I love about the butterfly is that out of their ugliness (the cocoon) they emerge as beautiful, unique creatures. We all do that. We’re not all that attractive as children (whiney, noisey messes, we are) or teenagers (continue the whiney with a lot of angst thrown in)…and even as adults many of us could still use some work (yes, the whiney may continue even though our cars are better and so is our skin).

Most of us keep working, despite the whine that roars up from behind from time to time. We work our way from caterpillar into cocoon, fight our way free from the bonds the cocoon holds over us and emerge (eventually) as beautiful creatures.

We have two butterfly farms near us and both are so much fun to visit. We took bebe for her first time a few weeks ago. The first butterfly to land on her hand elicited a scream and when she realized how soft, non-slimy and generally non-creepy it felt, the scream turned to a sigh. From that moment the squeals and laughter erupted every couple of minutes as more and more butterflies came by to ‘inspect’ us. From the ugliest brown-and-brown butterfly to one that was an ethereal blue, we watched as the butterflies floated by, stopped to smell the roses and generally enjoyed their day.

Some days it is a little easier to take time off to smell the roses than others. Today is one of the not-so easy days. And yet, I’m going to take a little time because the butterflies are out. After our deep water run yesterday morning, I caught sight of not one but ten butterflies outside our windows. A few fluttering by on the street. Several checking out my daisies and marigolds. I haven’t managed a picture yet, but I’ll keep trying. I have no idea why they’re here so early this year, but they’ve reminded me to take a little extra time to enjoy those little moments.

What makes you stop to smell the roses – or pet the butterflies? 

It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here!

We are less than 15 days into June and it’s getting hotter! Nope, not talking about some of the sexxxy romances being published by Crimson Romance – although, yes, hawt! Yummily hawt! – I’m mean literally H. O. T. We live on the North Coast – Ohio/Lake Erie – which means the 90-degree dog-days of summer are usually in late July or August. But this weekend – when we were in full, outdoor birthday party mode for our 4 year old – the 90s hit. And they hit hard.

Even in the shade it was a little bit sizzly, which means we kept the water coming for the kiddos…and slightly more adult beverages iced up and ready for the sweltering adults. A few of us took pity on the kids gave ourselves a break and hit the pool, where mid-90 temperatures felt down-right cool and comfortable.

This is one of my favorite summer songs – although Katrina is a little peppier than I was in the midst of it all:

Thank God for those coolers filled with ice or we might not have made it through. It was a great day, I won’t say differently, but a few times I – well, the bad mommy part of me, – just wanted to kick everyone out, grab my favorite book and a floatie and hit the pool. Instead I hit the pool with a gaggle of 4-year-olds and splashed the heat away. It almost worked, but it was still hot. Before I get too whiny, I’ll let you in on a secret: I am a sun and heat lover. To the core. I’ve found I like it better on my terms – like with that book and a floatie at hand. There is just something about the pool that automatically relaxes me. This is one of my favorite songs for those afternoons in the sun:

Music plays a big part in my writing – I have playlists for my characters, songs that I think fit the books. One of my favorites for What a Texas Girl Wants ‘Summertime’ by Kenny Chesney. You can read more about my playlist for the book – and check out the first chapter as a free read – here.

What is your favorite way to spend a flaming hot day?

Introducing…Kristina Knight

1. Introduce yourself, please (name you write under). Is this a pen or personal name? Why did you make the choice to write under that name? Hi, everyone! My name is Kristina Knight, a debut author with Crimson Romance. Yes, that is my real name. I decided a long time ago that the capital K’s in my name would look pretty on a cover…and I was right! Plus, now I don’t have to remember yet another name – I’ve got about 7 already. There’s Kristina (and a variety of nicknames), Mom (and its vast iterations), Babe (from RadioMan), and the list goes on.

2. Let’s get the details out of the way: Single, married, divorced, widowed? Parent? Living where? Doing what, other than writing? One—just one—physical characteristic

I’m married to RadioMan and the stork dropped off bebe to us almost 4 years ago. She likes it when I tell everyone I had the shortest, best pregnancy ever: there was no labor (well, of the physical, sweaty, painful sort), it started at noon on  a Monday and she was delivered at 3pm that same afternoon. We live on the North Coast of Ohio and I spend most of my days writing at the computer. And, so my rear end doesn’t become as large as the seat of my comfy chair, I teach aqua aerobics classes at our local YMCA, take Zumba classes and walk. A lot. I have auburn hair and green eyes and not a lick of Irish blood in my system. German and English, yes. Go figure.

3. Why do you write romance novels? I love romance novels, have since I was a teen and probably shouldn’t have been reading them. My first romance was a YA novel called PS I Love You. It was filled with teen angst and death and cancer and a more tragic than happily ever after ending. I remember as I read it thinking I would have done it differently. I would have allowed Mariah to have her happy ending with Paul, even though she learned more from the unhappy finish. But that’s me: I like the happy. The struggle through life’s little surprises may make us stronger, but I like that struggle to have a solid, happy ending, too. So that’s what I write.

4. Do you identify closely with one particular character? How? In What a Texas Girl Wants, my debut book, I really identified with Kathleen because she has a firm idea of where she thinks she needs to be. I spent a lot of years trying to follow the path I thought my parents and friends and professors wanted me to take. It wasn’t a bad road, it just wasn’t the road I truly wanted to be on. Now that I’m on my own path I’m so much happier. That’s the journey Kathleen takes in the story, a journey of self-fulfillment and true love. I hope you all love Jackson and Kathleen as much as I love them.

5. Give us a hint about what the next book’s like. My second Crimson Romance is out later this fall and is (tentatively) titled The Saint’s Devilish Deal. It features an injured surfer and a wound-too-tightly B&B manager and a lovely destination, Puerto Vallarta.

Anyway, that is the Cliff’s Notes version of my writing life. I’m so excited to be part of the Crimson Romance family! If you want to know even more about me, stop by my website or look me up on Facebook or Twitter.

What Makes a Good Book?

I’ve come to a startling conclusion: what makes a good book is completely subjective. (gasp!)

What makes a book good to me won’t be what makes a book good for you. But I’ll still give you my opinion.

What makes a good book for me? Great characters.

I can’t tell you how many books I’ve grabbed off the shelves, thinking the premise was great, the characters sounded great and together… they turned into either a boring or not believable read. I hate when this happens, but reading books that I thought would be good and having them turn into door-bangers has taught me one thing: to create characters I believe in for my own books.

Defining great characters is a bit more difficult. For me, a good character is believable. They may do fantastic things, have fantastic cars/homes/jobs but they are still people that as you’re reading turn into people you can see yourself talking to. Maybe they have traits (the way they talk/think; the people they have relationships with; unique idiosyncracies) that you recognize from people in your own life or relationship circle and that draws you to their “book person”. Above all, for me, great characters are people. They stop being someone you’re reading about and instead become someone you’re making a journey with. I’m starting to sound like Oprah, I know, but if you can’t identify with the characters in books, what are you identifying with?

My CPs and my fantabulous editor tell me I create solid, believable characters and I think so, too. Sometimes I want to throw my characters out the window and close their book, but I work through the anger.

So, by my own definition, I should be writing books that I would buy if I was a random shopper. Does that mean my books have a snowball’s chance in Jamaica of making it to the best seller’s list? Haven’t got a clue.

Will this make me stop writing the best books I can? Absolutely not.

So, my question to you: what makes a good book?